10 Movies I Can Watch Any Time

My favorite movies are The Godfather, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Psycho. But I’m not always in the mood to watch three hours of the mafia, apes and wormholes, or Janet Leigh getting murdered. There’s a big difference between best movies and favorite movies, and there’s an even bigger difference between favorite movies and most watchable movies, and the movies below are 100% the latter. Yes, a few of them would rank among my favorites, but none are in my top ten. However, I could watch these movies anytime and have watched them many, many times. They never fail to entertain or bring a smile to my face.


Times watched: 15+

John Ford’s 1939 Western was one I discovered in a college film class. I fell in love with it on first watch, and when assigned a scene analysis paper, I felt it was the only film we watched up to that point in class that I could pour over for the hours necessary to complete the paper. So I did, and it was a joyful weekend. (I also got an A, thank you very much.) Since then, I go back to it every year, sometimes more than once. It’s Ford’s best and one of the best of the genre.



Days of Heaven
Times watched: 7+

It was even later in my life than I first caught up with Days of Heaven. I hadn’t ever seen a Terrence Malick film until 2011, but with The Tree of Life fast approaching that spring, I took in all his films. Badlands underwhelmed me (still does), so I worried about how the rest of this undertaking would go. Then I watched Days of Heaven. Then I watched Days of Heaven again. And again. Eventually, I moved on to The Thin Red Line, but since then, I’ve only revisited Days of Heaven of Malick’s films.



Boogie Nights
Times watched: 5+

If I totaled up how many times I watched the “Jessie’s Girl” shoot out scene—one of the greatest ever committed to film—I’d get a number far greater than five, or ten, or probably 100. Boogie Nights as a whole, however, is a film I actually came around to pretty late in my cinephilia, hence the fewer watches than any other title on this list. That said, it’s one of my favorite director’s best piece of work, and it’s never very far from my brain space. Absolutely perfect movie.



Times watched: 10+

I’m sure many will groan or tune out at this point, but I can forgive laughably insane questionable science and cliched character relationships when a film is so damn fun from start to finish. And as far as mindless action movies go, this is my go-to.



The Royal Tenenbaums
Times watched: 15+

Kind of in the same boat as Boogie Nights insofar as it’s the best movie from one of my favorite directors. The Royal Tenenbaums, however, is a film I’ve loved since it came out and I watched it way too young. Great characters, great music, great relationships, great humor, great pathos—it’s another perfect movie.



The Departed
Times watched: 15+

Watched it at a seminal time in my life—just as I was really getting into movies. It helped me discover Scorsese, and hell, that turn never gets old. Also: DiCaprio (in this movie) for Prez.



Michael Clayton
Times watched: 10+

The old-school charms of Tony Gilroy’s 2007 masterpiece eluded me on first, second, even third watch. I admired the performances and the screenplay, but for a while, it struck me as a fine, if overrated movie. I’m not sure what clicked on a seminal watch of Michael Clayton, but for about three months in college, I didn’t want to watch anything else. I understood Tilda Swinton’s Oscar win. I totally got the structural choices. It was and is the best film of 2007.



Times watched: 25+

My go-to late-night college movie. My roommates and I watched this almost weekly, usually in pieces as we passed out, but still. I’ll never get tired of Jonah Hill’s manic crassness, Michael Cera’s manic nervousness, or one King McLovin.



Times watched: 5+

Like Michael Clayton, Moneyball‘s brilliance eluded me on first watch. I admired the film, I think, because I’m a baseball and baseball movie fan. Repeat watches clued me in on how smart and complex the movie is, how spectacular the cinematography and editing are, and how damn good Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill’s respective performances are.



James Bond movies
Times watched: 120+ in total

I saw Casino Royale four times in theaters alone. I own the first 20 on VHS and all 23 on both DVD and Blu-Ray. Good old 007 was instrumental in my falling in love with movies. I revisit the good ones—From Russia with Love, The Spy Who Loved Me, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Goldeneye, Skyfall—all the time, and even the bad ones—Octopussy, Die Another Day, The Man with the Golden Gun—are films I’ve seen three or four times. With another James Bond film on the horizon in 2015, there’s no doubt this number will creep up over the next few months.

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